C-TEC's Mission on Mars

From: DragonFun@aol.com
Subject: C-TEC's Mission on Mars
Date: Sun, 6 Apr 1997 12:41:25 -0400 (EDT)

Hello, Discuss--Live from Mars People,

Below is an excerpt from my "Power Tools for Math & Science" column in the
Feb '97 issue of Learning and Leading with Technology.

Excerpt ---------------------------------------------------------------------
The universe beckons. Soon, Gaia's children will begin moving outward,
colonizing near space, the solar system, beyond. A new childhood for all of
us, capturing a lifelong sense of wonder.  -- Laran Stardrake 

C-TEC's Mission to Mars
The Center for Technology, Environment, and Communication (C-TEC) is a
project-based learning community at Piner High School in Santa Rosa,
California. Nine teachers, 250 students, and several volunteer mentors. In
December every year, C-TEC cancels most classes for the last eight or nine
school days and embarks on an intensive project adventure--all students, all
teachers, full-time. December 10-20, 1996, C-TEC cancelled all morning
classes and ran a full-time simulation of establishing the first permanent
scientific base on Mars--all students, all teachers, and mentors, including
the authors. Three teams of students planned and prepared for this adventure.

* The Future History Team developed a scientifically credible timeline of
what might happen between now and the time of the simulation (2040 AD). The
establishment of the base on Mars was in the context of this historical

* The Logistics Team planned the actual simulation, including the mechanics
of running the simulation, activities and tasks to be carried out by teams of
students, and multimedia ways to document the nine days of intensive research
and simulation.

* The Communications Team gathered resources on the Net, communicated with
NASA and private companies that are planning activities in space, and worked
with the other teams.

Odyssey: Mission on Mars was C-TEC's primary activity during the last nine
school days of 1996. Students were divided into three groups and assigned to
three Mars landing sites called Odyssey One, Odyssey Two, and Odyssey Three.
Three teachers worked with students at each site and the students who planned
the simulation acted as a Science Advisory Committee to all three groups.
Smaller teams were formed to work on specific tasks within each teacher's
purview. Each team included a junior or senior who acted as a team leader and
peer mentor for freshman and sophomore team members. Meandering mentors (Eric
Burgess and Bob Albrecht) wandered about to help as needed. The Odyssey
Journalism Staff (23 students) were here, there, everywhere, capturing the
event on various media. The simulation had four major goals, listed here:

* Team-building. Teams consisted of mixed grades and students who had not
worked together before, researching topics they found interesting and
building a sense of community.

* Authenticity. Students did real work for a common purpose in a manner much
like the way similar work is done in the real world.

* Communication. Everything in this simulation was intertwingled with
everything else in this simulation!  Communication among teams was
established early and maintained throughout the simulation. This was the most
difficult goal to achieve.

* Fun! This was the easiest goal to achieve.

Planning a permanent base or colony on Mars is about as interdisciplinary as
you can get. Student planners identified the following task specialties for
student teams at each of the three landing sites on Mars:
* Survival (air, water, food)
* Communications (own landing site, other landing sites, Mars government,
* Technology (transportation, site habitat, materials, Mars surface suit
* Exploration (areography, areology, search for resources, search for life)
* Recreation and culture (music, art, sports, et cetera, et cetera)
* Medical, health, and psychological well-being (cold, radiation, hypoxia,
dust, mental health, nutrition, rescue) 

All work was completed on December 19. During the morning of December 20, all
teams presented their work in a carnival-like multimedia atmosphere. The
outside world was invited to participate, especially parents. It was like a
big party!

If you want to simulate a go and return expedition, establishing a permanent
scientific base, or creating the first colony on Mars, here are some great
* Bova, Ben. Mars. New York, NY: Bantam Books. 1992. The best science fiction
novel about a peopled scientific expedition to Mars.
* Burgess, Eric. Return to the Red Planet. New York, NY: Columbia University
Press. 1990. Nonfiction. A primary resource in C-TEC's Mission to Mars. Dr.
Burgess participated as a mentor in C-TEC's Mission to Mars. 
* Educational Horizons. NASA, Code FE, Washington, DC 20546-0001. Voice:
202-358-1533. NASA's periodical for teachers.
* Explorer's Guide to Mars, a 40" x 26" poster that contains a topographical
map of Mars. From the Planetary Society, 65 N. Catalina Avenue, Pasadena, CA
91106-2301. Voice: 818-793-5100. Fax: 818-793-5528. E-mail:
tps@genie.geis.com; WWW: http://planetary.org/tps/.  
* Hansson, Anders. Mars and the Development of Life. Chichester, West Sussex,
England: Ellis Horwood, Ltd. 1991. Great source of Mars data.
* Mars Underground News and The Planetary Report. Periodicals--both c/o The
Planetary Society, 65 N. Catalina Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91106-2301. Voice:
818-793-5100. Fax: 818-793-5528. E-mail: tps@genie.geis.com; WWW:
* NASA Teacher Resource Centers. To obtain a list of Teacher Resource
Centers, contact the Central Operation of Resources for Educators (CORE).
NASA CORE, Lorain County Joint Vocational School, 15181 Route 58 South
Oberlin, OH 44074, 216-774-1051, ext. 293/294  
* Nicogossian, Arnauld, M.D. Space Physiology and Medicine. Malvern, PA: Lea
& Febiger. A primary resource for teams concerned with the health and
well-being of the first Martians.    
* Robinson, Kim Stanley. Red Mars. New York, NY: Bantam Books. 1993. The best
science fiction novel about the colonization and terraforming of Mars. First
in a trilogy that includes Green Mars and Blue Mars. A primary resource in
C-TEC's Mission to Mars. We're working on a teacher's guide for Red Mars.
* Spaceviews. The National Space Society's free on-line newsletter. To
subscribe, email to majordomo@ari.net with the message: subscribe Spaceviews.
* TES News. Arizona Mars K-12 Education Program, Department of Geology, Box
871404, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287-1404.
End excerpt ----------------------------------------------

C-TEC does an end-of-December intensive simulation every year. This was our
second Mars simulation. The first Mars simulation was in December 1993.


Bob Albrecht